One of the best presents my husband ever gave me was a gift certificate for a massage during my third pregnancy. I'd never heard of prenatal massage, but my OB/GYN assured me it was safe, so I went for it — and enjoyed every minute of the massage. It soothed my tired muscles and eased away a lot of the aches and pains I felt from carrying around a baby bump all day.
Prenatal massage differs from other forms of massage. Instead of using deep pressure and working your muscles in a localized region, the massage therapist uses gentle pressure to relax larger areas of your body. During your first trimester, you might lie on a standard table for your massage, but during the second and third trimesters, you will use a chair specially designed for prenatal massage. It reduces pressure on your abdomen to make your experience safe and pleasurable.
Benefits of Prenatal Massage
Pregnancy can add a lot of extra pressure and strain on your body, but the American Pregnancy Association says having a prenatal massage can reduce pain and help your body in many ways, such as:
- Promoting a productive labor: Every pregnant woman worries about labor, but getting massages may help tone and prepare your body to make labor more productive so you require less intervention.
- Alleviating anxiety: Stress can feel even more overwhelming during pregnancy, and too much stress can sometimes cause premature labor, according to Preterm Birth. Prenatal massage can ease your anxiety and keep you as calm as possible, which benefits both you and your baby.
- Reducing depression: Baby blues can arrive even before your newborn does. Massage can help lift your spirits and allow you to feel more hopeful and optimistic.
- Easing joint and muscle pain: Carrying a baby around for nine months puts a lot of extra strain on your muscles and joints. Massage can reduce the pressure on your joints and soothe your overworked muscles to help you cross the finish line.
- Improving circulation: Regular massage can improve your circulation to reduce the risk of uncomfortable pregnancy ailments, such as varicose veins and hemorrhoids.
Check in with your OB/GYN
Although people used to think prenatal massage was fraught with risk and danger, more recent studies, such as the one by the University of Minnesota, confirm that regular massage during pregnancy is safe and beneficial. Previous concerns were based on limited long-term case studies, but now that more long-term studies exist, the verdict looks good! However, if you have a high-risk pregnancy or other medical issues, always check with your OB/GYN or primary care physician before getting a massage.